3 PhD positions at the Earth Surface Dynamics Group (# of pos: 3)

Updated: about 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 15 Aug 2021

We are searching for three highly motivated doctoral students to undertake multidisciplinary research on the connections between tectonics, landscape evolution and the formation of biodiversity. Positions are in the Earth Surface Dynamics Group under the supervision of Prof. Sean Willett in the Department of Earth Sciences at ETH Zurich.

Job description

These doctoral positions are part of a broader effort to explore and model the connections between landscape evolution and biological speciation and diversification over geological timescales. Collaborators within the Department of Environmental Sciences will also be involved in the project. The fundamental question to be addressed is how does tectonics affect physical geography or other landscape factors defining habitat and how does the change in those parameters over space and time impact speciation, species dispersal and biodiversity. Three specific case studies will be investigated to explore these questions.

  • The first project will explore the early collisional orogeny in northern Taiwan and the establishment of topographic barriers to species migration. Focus will be on establishing timing of the early collision using thermochronometry and its relationship to established phylogenies.
  • The second project will investigate the rate of landscape change in Madagascar with its extraordinary diversity of endemic species. Detrital cosmogenic radionuclide techniques will be combined with geomorphic analysis to establish rates and history of topographic evolution of the island and the relationship to species diversification and spatial distributions.
  • The third project will study aquatic species of northern Italy through the use of environmental DNA to establish how the fluvial river network was impacted by the uplift of the Apennines and the establishment of a north-south barrier along Italy.

  • Your profile

    Candidates should have a Master’s degree in Earth Science or closely related field such as Environmental Sciences, Ecology or Geophysics and a demonstrated ability to work and communicate effectively across disciplines. Candidates should have a strong quantitative background including experience with numerical modeling or other quantitative analysis. Experience with specific techniques as described under the individual projects will be regarded positively, but is not necessary.

    ETH Zurich

    ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.


    We look forward to receiving your online application including:

    • a curriculum vitae,
    • two references and
    • a letter describing motivation and experience.

    Applications are due Aug 15th with interviews to be held in late August or early September. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

    Further information on the Earth Surface Dynamics group is available at: www.earthsurfacedynamics.ethz.ch . Questions about the project can be directed to Prof. Sean Willett at swillett@erdw.ethz.ch (no applications).

    In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

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